Afcon set for emotion-laden final
Afcon 3rd/4th Place
Ghana vs Mali 20:00 SS4, 9
Playing on Sunday
Playing on Sunday
Zambia vs Ivory Coast 19:30 SS4, 9
Ivory Coast, looking to lay to rest the ghosts of failures past, and Zambia, looking to honour the dead from the 1993 air disaster, meet in what will be a deeply emotional Africa Cup of Nations final on Sunday.
The Zambians have kept their date with destiny, stunning Ghana 1-0 in Wednesday’s first semifinal to bring Herve Renard’s side to Libreville off whose coast 19 years ago the national side perished en route to a World Cup qualifier in Dakar.
They face Didier Drogba’s Elephants, who defeated Mali 1-0 courtesy of a brilliant solo effort by Arsenal striker Gervinho, in the Gabonese capital later.
After Zambia’s stunning win over the Black Stars Renard said: “It was written in the stars that we had to return to Gabon in order to honour the memories of the national side wiped out in 1993,” said Renard.
“A team that is returning home and all of them die, is catastrophic for a country.
“Twelve million Zambians wanted us to go the whole way to Libreville. As soon as we arrive in Libreville, we will go to the spot where the plane crashed, not far from the stadium.
Zambia booked their ticket to the final courtesy of substitute Emmanuel Mayuka who scored 12 minutes from time to give the Copper Bullets victory over the four time champions.
The goal came against the run of play with Isaac Chansa setting up the 20-year-old striker, whose shot from outside the penalty area flew past goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey into the corner of the net.
Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic refused to appear at the post-match press conference.
In his absence assistant Akwasi Appiah said: “We dominated almost all the match, they had only one or two opportunities, and scored with one of them.
“Zambia is a huge footballing nation, they deserve to be in the final. “Everyone is very sad, the majority of the players cried.”
Later, in the Gabonese capital, a moment of brilliance from Gervinho secured Ivory Coast their fifth consecutive win in the 2012 competition and their place in Sunday’s climax.
While the Ivorians, winners back in 1992, last made the final in 2006 when they came off second best to Egypt in Cairo, Zambia are appearing for the first time since 1994, when they were defeated by Nigeria in Tunisia.